Intensive MBA Career Prep Program Gives Ross Students a Major Edge
For students who pursue an MBA to help them change careers, the planning and preparation for the switch needs to start early. To get the most out of business school, students find they really need to have a career plan in place before they start classes.
At Michigan Ross, incoming MBA students take a deep dive into career preparation as part of their orientation when they first arrive on campus. The intensive Career Action Days program ensures they start school with a solid plan to make the most of their B-school opportunities--and gives them a leg up on everything to come post-MBA.
Career Preparation has always been a key part of MBA orientation at Ross. But the expanded, innovative Career Action Days program has made it even more important and impactful. And for good reason: The recruiting picture has changed dramatically. Recruiters these days want to visit campus earlier and earlier to start identifying their best prospects; networking and presentations for internships now ramp up shortly after first-year classes begin.
A resume that was good enough to get accepted into a top MBA program will not be good enough for MBA recruiting, says Randy Albert, associate director of career counseling at Ross. “That competition for talent is so fierce,” he says. “It’s a whole new ballgame.”
Students need to be ready for the process, and they need to have a career goal in mind. Career Action Days provides the time, the tools, and the expert advice to make that happen.
Reflecting on this year’s sessions, first-year MBA student Joe Chaves found the participation from Ross alumni especially valuable: “The willingness from alumni to give back to incoming Rossers is a hallmark of the Ross School of Business,” he says. “Alumni in nearly every major industry were present to share recruiting tips, day-in-the-life overviews, and provide a general sense of what working in that industry or for a given organization would be like.”
Adds first-year MBA Eric Harris: “I found the Career Action Days to be very insightful in terms of helping people learn more about their careers of interest. I was able to use some of the panels to further connect with banks and some consulting firms as well.”
Ross Career Services’ engagement with new students actually starts over the summer, when webinars, small group chats, and a proven online assessment help students focus on what they want to do after business school. That provides a foundation for the concentrated activity of Career Action Days, which this year included:
- A keynote address from Jaymin Patel, author of The MBA Guide to Networking Like a Rockstar, covering topics like “Four Things Every Personal Narrative Must Include” and “11 Attributes of a Networking Rockstar.”
- Recruiting tips from a panel of second-year MBA students.
- A workshop on identifying your “essential ingredients” for career happiness and success.
- An afternoon of rotating alumni panels on career functions like consulting, marketing, finance, entrepreneurship, etc.
- Specific job-search strategies, such as leveraging Ross’ unique Functional Accountability Career Teams (FACT), individual counseling with staff career consultants, career-focused clubs, more than 50 trained peer coaches, and involvement with Ross’ topical institutes and centers.
- An overview of 100 business and career databases and other resources available through the Kresge Business Library.
- Hands-on guidance on how to “MBA-ize” your resume.
- A professional business portrait photo session.
- A panel of recruiters from companies like Deloitte, Amazon, Citi, and P&G who addressed questions like:
- Is it true recruiters only spend six or seven seconds on each resume?
- What’s important in a cover letter?
- What’s the value of the networking process, and how does it differ among industries?
- What mistakes do you see MBAs making at networking events?
- How and when should students follow up after meeting you?
- How honest should I be about my goals when speaking with a company that’s not my first choice?
“I found it incredibly helpful to hear about recruiting strategies from second-year students during the student panel. Since they were in our shoes a year ago, they can attest to the myriad feelings we are experiencing as we begin our time at Ross and provide guidance for navigating the career search,” Chaves says.
All the work of Career Action Days pays off. When recruiters came to campus last year, “They noticed a difference early on. They really noticed a difference with the MBA1s. They were better prepared,” says Leslie Lynn, senior associate director of Ross Career Services.
This year, a new feature will be added: a half-day session in late October to focus specifically on interview preparation.
It all adds up to maximizing each student’s ability to achieve their individual career goals. Says Lynn: “We try to get students to understand, ‘It’s your life. What makes sense for you?’”